On the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ official arrival in America, we’re retracing their steps—from New York to Miami—one screaming crowd and hotel room at a time. Talking about luxury travel and hotel experience, we like to connect hotels to iconic celebrities (see Where do celebrities sleep?) Of course, The Beatles are one good example of it.
While 4,000 fans waved the band goodbye at London’s Heathrow Airport, the screaming throng of 3,000 young girls who met their plane as it touched down at New York City’s JFK Airport wasn’t too shabby either. Photographer Harry Benson was there to capture the action, and later assembled his portraits into a limited-edition book for TASCHEN.
Next stop for John, Paul, George, and Ringo? The Plaza Hotel, which would become their home base while prepping for their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, on February 9, 1964. The broadcast would attract a record number of viewers—73 million in total. Crowds gathered outside the hotel to welcome the Fab Four.
The unprecedented viewership left The Ed Sullivan Show producers only one choice: to do it again! The very next week, and on location. So Sullivan and his crew headed for Miami Beach, where The Beatles performed one again a week later, on February 16th, at the Deauville Beach Resort.
When they weren’t rehearsing, the band members could be found taking advantage of the hotel’s beachfront location, and cozying up to the locals. In honor of the show’s 50th anniversary, the hotel is hosting a two-day concert, 1964: The Tribute.
Harry Benson had been with The Beatles in the days before their trip to America as well. In fact, it was in Paris—at the Hotel George V—that they learned (at 3 a.m.) they’d be headed to New York in a few days to perform, after “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” hit number one on the U.S. charts. They celebrated with a pillow fight.
It was also at the Hotel George V that the band composed the music and lyrics for “I Feel Fine.”
On September 10, 1964, The Beatles were back in Florida for a concert in Jacksonville. But Hurricane Isabel diverted their flight, and they ended up at the decidedly laidback Key Wester Motel in Key West, drinking and jamming with their opening acts. Though the hotel was eventually demolished to make way for the Hyatt Windward Pointe, its stop on The Beatles’ tour of America is still remembered. The hotel’s open-air recreational area is called Beatles Hut, where guests chow down on food from the Abbey Road Snack Shack.
The Beatles would continue to make their presence known at hotels around the world. On March 25, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a Bed-In — an anti-Vietnam protest that saw them inviting media to come and watch them lie in bed for a week — at the Hilton Amsterdam.
Today, an engraved glass room divider commemorates the celebrity protest that went down in room 702 nearly 45 years ago.